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August 28, 2017 10:00 AM, EDT
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Commercial vehicle inspectors may issue citations to motor carriers operating vehicles without electronic logging devices beginning Dec. 18, but will not place vehicles out of service until April 1.

However, a failure to have an ELD installed in a commercial vehicle by Dec. 18, still will result in points being assessed on a motor carrier’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability program safety measurement system profile, said Collin Mooney, executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.

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“The phase-in is intended to encourage compliance, but not be unreasonable,” Mooney told Transport Topics. “But make no mistake about it, enforcement is going to happen.”

CVSA announced Aug. 28 that the phased-in enforcement is intended to allow motor carriers to adjust to the new requirement, and at the same not disrupt the flow of freight by placing drivers and vehicles out of service.

Mooney said some aspects of phased-in enforcement may vary by law-enforcement jurisdiction. Some states may issue citations, while others may fine carriers without ELDs. But all jurisdictions will document a violator’s inspection report noting the failure to have an ELD in the truck, and follow-up on future stops or roadside inspections to see if violators have complied after the April 1 deadline.

In a letter to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the inspectors group said its member jurisdictions have used the phased-in approach in the past when implementing a significant change in regulatory requirements.

One of those instances came in 2004, when enforcement was phased-in after a final rule on cargo securement went into effect, Mooney said.

Meanwhile, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association on Aug. 29 filed a petition with FMCSA requesting a delay beyond the April 1 phase-in date, claiming that 26 states have not yet incorporated an electronic logging regulation into state law and are not authorized to enforce the rule until they do so.

“We are concerned about numerous states issuing citations for the violation of non-existent state laws,” Todd Spencer, OOIDA’s executive vice president, said in a statement. “No state law enforcement should be implementing the ELD mandate until they actually adopt the mandate into state law and train and equip their enforcement personnel to enforce it properly.”

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OOIDA has unsuccessfully made several attempts to block the ELD mandate in federal appeals courts, and has been denied a review of the issue by the U.S. Supreme Court.

FMCSA did not respond to a request for comment on the phased-in enforcement, but Mooney said agency officials have agreed to the plan.

“I also want to assure you that, despite what opponents of the mandate may argue, the enforcement community is ready to begin enforcement of the requirement on Dec. 18, 2017,” Mooney told FMCSA in the letter.

FMCSA will require nearly all interstate carriers to use ELDs instead of paper logbooks to record drivers’ hours beginning Dec. 18. Carriers using existing e-log devices that meet current specifications — known as automatic onboard recording devices, or AOBRDs — will be able to continue using them for two years after the compliance deadline.

FMCSA said its research shows that the ELD regulation, also a congressional mandate, will reduce a motor carrier’s crash rate and hours-of-service violations.

The delayed enforcement comes after the agency gave motor carriers two years to comply with the 2015 final rule.

Nonetheless, Mooney said he didn’t consider it fair before April 1 to deem a carrier an “imminent hazard” if a driver’s paper log is in compliance with hours-of-service requirements.